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February 1, 2010

President Obama's 2011 budget includes money for obtaining Illinois prison

As detailed in this local article, which is headlined "Obama’s 2011 budget includes money for Thomson prison purchase," all the recent talk of a proposed spending freeze has not prevents a budget line-item to enable the feds to buy a prison. Here are the details:

The Obama administration’s budget for fiscal year 2011 includes $237 million for the purchase, renovation and staffing of the Thomson Correctional Center. The administration has proposed buying the nearly vacant facility 50 miles northeast of the Quad-Cities and using it to house detainees now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The prison also would take approximately 1,600 federal prisoners.

An administration official was careful to point out Sunday the figure is not a projected purchase price for the facility. Negotiations still are ongoing with the state and the figure builds in flexibility depending on the final purchase price, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the budget has not been officially released yet.

Despite the uncertainty over the final purchase price, though, this is the most explicit the administration has been publicly about the potential cost of the deal. Peter Orszag, the administration’s budget director, said Sunday the expenditure would be warranted even without the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay because the Federal Bureau of Prisons needs the extra space.

Congress must approve funding for the purchase, a process that is bound to be contentious.... The figure, while still subject to negotiation, is bound to disappoint some Republicans in the state legislature, who have said the federal government ought to pay more than $300 million for the facility.

Thomson was completed in 2001 for $140 million, but it has sat mostly vacant since then. Pledges to fill the prison with state inmates have gone unfulfilled.

February 1, 2010 at 07:38 AM | Permalink

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